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Jake Shimabukuro believes music is the greatest gift, and the ukulele is the friendliest way to present that gift to the world.
Jake Shimabukuroâ€™s life is centered on the ukulele â€” itâ€™s been that way since he was 4 and picked up a â€śuke.â€ť
â€śMy mom played and taught me my first few chords,â€ť Shimabukuro said. â€śI started strumming mainly traditional Hawaiian music has a child.â€ť
Later, though, Shimabukuro enjoyed the challenge of trying to play other styles of music on the four string, two octave instrument, such as jazz, classical or rock.
In the hands of Shimabukuro, the traditional Hawaiian instrument is stretched and molded into a complex and bold new musical force.
Now Shimabukuro,35, is a rare young musician whoâ€™s earned comparisons to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis.
Shimabukuro has strummed himself into a world renown ukulele player, and heâ€™s also known as a YouTube sensation.
Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam recently released his own album of ukulele songs and said this about Jake: â€śJake is taking the instrument to a place that I canâ€™t see anybody else catching up with him.â€ť
Shimabukuro brings his uke to Newton-Conover Auditorium Friday, Jan. 27, for a one-night-only concert, not even a month after the Jan. 4 release of his most recent album â€śPeace Love Ukulele.â€ť
The CD debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard World Album Chart.
Shimabukuro and his â€śukeâ€ť effortlessly mix jazz, rock, classical, traditional Hawaiian music, and folk, to create a sound thatâ€™s both technically masterful and emotionally powerfulâ€¦and utterly unique in the music world.
With drums, bass and even orchestral strings filling spaces behind the ukulele, the album conveys the complete musical vision of one of the worldâ€™s most original talents.
Shimabukuro describes â€śPeace Love Ukuleleâ€ť as an album he hopes will bring joy and happiness to listeners.
â€śI hope the emotions expressed in the music will connect people and make them realize that we all feel the same things â€” we just express them differently,â€ť he said.
A few of Shimabukuroâ€™s favorite tunes on the album include â€ś143,â€ť a song inspired by the pager code 143 which simply means I love you, â€śGo For Broke,â€ť a song written for the Japanese-American veterans who served in World War II, and â€śBohemian Rhapsody,â€ť one of his all-time favorite classic rock tunes.
After taking on covers of â€śWhile My Guitar Gently Weepsâ€ť and â€śBohemian Rhapsody,â€ť Shimabukuro admitted there are many great tunes out there, and he loves covering tunes written or performed by his favorite artists.
â€śCovering a song of your favorite artist is like wearing your favorite basketball playerâ€™s jersey,â€ť he said.
The new CD, Peace Love Ukulele, is Shimabukuroâ€™s first independent release.
â€śI had a lot of fun putting things together for this album,â€ť he said. â€śI really took my time with this one and tried to present the ukulele in ways that were fresh and exciting.â€ť
Shimabukuro hopes listeners experience the same joy that he experiences when he strums the uklele.
Armed with his new CD, Shimabukuro hopes to inspire more people to take an interest in the young instrument.
â€śThe ukulele is probably one of the easiest instruments to play. Anyone can pick it up for the first time, learn a couple chords and immediately start strumming songs,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s so relaxing. I always tell people that playing the ukulele is like an entire yoga session in one strum.â€ť
Shimabukuro said all the great musicians inspire him, but inspiration comes from elsewhere, too.
â€śA lot of my inspiration comes from figures outside of the music world â€” people like Bruce Lee, Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana and other artists who are passionate about what they do," he said.
His heroes outside of music â€” when he was growing up â€” were Bruce Lee and Bill Cosby
He especially loved Leeâ€™s philosophy and applied a lot of his ideas to his approach in music. â€śLee embraced all forms of martial arts and didnâ€™t believe in having just one style,â€ť Shimabukuro said. â€śI love all forms of music and try not to get locked into one genre.
Shimabukuroâ€™s style is extremely eclectic and spans numberous genres. He uses recorded music for different things.
â€śI like uptempo songs for when Iâ€™m exercising, slow ballads when Iâ€™m trying to relax, instrumental music when Iâ€™m studying, etc.â€ť
Shimabukuro is not sure where heâ€™ll be in 10 years, but he enjoys everything that is happening at this moment.
â€śIâ€™m extremely thankful for all the wonderful opportunities that have been coming my way,â€ť he said.
His purpose in creating Peace Love Ukulele is simple but powerful.
â€śI believe the ukulele is the instrument of peace,â€ť he said. â€śIf everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place.
Want to go?
What: Jake Shimabukuro, ukulele player.
When: Friday, Jan. 27.
Where: Newton-Conover Auditorium, located at 60 West Sixth St. in Newton.
Cost: s: Please contact the Newton-Conover Auditorium office at 828-464-8100, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.newton-conoverauditorium.org